A New Curriculum called STEAM

recite-8746-736886019-1bov1w6Mo Pleasure and select members of the We R 1 Voice Advisory Committee hold that creativity and experimentation fostered by the arts and especially music training can play an important role for students who pursue STEM careers.

Loves drives learning. Ask any scientist why they do what they do and the answer is usually the excitement of discovery. Young people commit themselves to these subjects at an early age for the love of the ideas.

Throughout history, some of the world’s most accomplished professionals in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields have had a profound connection to the arts and have credited that connection with a measure of their successes in STEM.

Albert Einstein so enjoyed playing the violin, he declared that “Life without playing music is inconceivable for me.” Thomas Edison enjoyed playing the piano so much that he attempted to develop one made from concrete to make them more affordable for working-class families. More recently, Brian Cox, Ph.D., a pioneering professor of particle physics at the University of Manchester, was a keyboard player in the British rock band Dare.

What would happen if the arts-based methods that are inherent in the teaching of Music, Drama, Dance and Art were used to teach the Math and Sciences? Would the passion, motivation and understanding that seem to come so easily to students of the arts transfer to students of the Sciences?

This connection between the arts and STEM success is putting forth a new acronym—STEAM.

Just as NBC Learn is doing in their video series on the science and engineering in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, we will be looking at the science involved in music. For example, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans have shown that changes take place in the brain structure of children who received 15 months of music lessons. Musical training has also been shown to sharpen mental focus and self-control.

Music is structured very much like mathematics. Another important component of music is experimentation. Students do what are called experiments in their science class, but they are not really experiments. Students are simply following instructions. A lot more experimenting can happen in music, if only because it is safer. Also, students are not allowed to be creative in science classes. They are following instructions. Creativity is necessary for scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.

The We R 1 Voice team is investigating the feasibility of creating an arts-based curriculum for science and math. In addition to the obvious applications of technology and engineering in producing and recording music, the We R 1 Voice STEAM project will consider the effect of integrating arts-based learning strategies such as ideation, improvisation and ensemble thinking with science and math.

Maybe one day soon We R 1 Voice will have a call for music videos about the value of STEAM in the classroom!

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